Gaza is at risk of famine and disease after aid deliveries were halted due to fuel shortages and communication disruptions, aid agencies have warned.
Aid deliveries to the enclave have been suspended again as Israel continues to restrict fuel supplies. The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) said on Friday that civilians face the “immediate possibility of starvation.” The World Health Organization has warned that the disease is spreading rapidly.
The suspension of humanitarian aid deliveries deepens the misery of hungry and homeless Palestinians as the war in Israel drags on.
While Israel allowed some aid to enter Gaza through the Rafah border crossing connecting the enclave with Egypt, it allowed almost no fuel to pass through.
Aid agencies say this makes it difficult to distribute supplies. Palestinian telecommunications companies Jawwal and Paltel said on Thursday that their networks had stopped working after running out of fuel. There were several communications blackouts during the Israeli attack in Gaza.
Aid agencies emphasize that the provision of all aid and medical care depends largely on fuel supplies.
Israel’s war cabinet announced Friday afternoon that it would allow two fuel trucks a day into Gaza “for UN needs.”
The fuel is intended to provide “minimal” support to water, sewage and sanitation networks to prevent the pandemic, the official said.
The United Nations said there would be no cross-border aid operation on Friday due to fuel shortages and communications blackouts. No humanitarian aid trucks arrived in Gaza for the second day in a row on Thursday due to a lack of aid fuel.
WFP executive director Cindy McCain said almost the entire population is in desperate need of food aid.
“There is virtually no food and water supply in Gaza, and only a fraction of the food needed reaches across the borders,” she said in a statement.
“With winter rapidly approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters, and a lack of clean water, civilians are at imminent risk of starvation,” McCain said.
“Food production has almost completely stopped, markets have collapsed, fishermen are landlocked and farmers cannot reach their farms,” said Abeer Etefa, WFP’s regional spokesman for the Middle East. “People face the imminent possibility of starvation.”
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has expressed great concern about the spread of disease in Gaza, citing more than 70,000 reported cases of acute respiratory infections and at least 44,000 cases of diarrhea, far more than expected.
No letting go
As the war enters its seventh week, there is no sign of an end to the Israeli attack and blockade of Gaza, despite international calls for a ceasefire or at least a humanitarian pause.
Palestinian news agency Wafa reported on Friday that at least nine people were killed and others injured in an Israeli attack that hit a group of displaced people near Rafah – the only border crossing where aid can be obtained.
The Israeli army’s chief of staff said Israel is close to destroying the Hamas military system in the northern Gaza Strip.
The conflict was sparked by a cross-border airstrike by Hamas militants on October 7, which killed approximately 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians.
According to the enclave’s health ministry, Israel’s retaliatory military attack on Gaza killed more than 11,500 Palestinians, including at least 4,700 children.
Israel has leveled entire neighborhoods of Gaza in air and artillery attacks, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes and the humanitarian situation is catastrophic, aid agencies say.